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Silo storage system are typically designed to store one single type of grain. An information silo is characterized by a rigid design, not allowing easy exchange of information and integration with other systems. Life sciences software systems and those applied in toxicology in particular, are often developed independently and compatibility is rarely perceived as a primary design goal. The traditional approach to the integration challenge is to build data warehouses and custom applications managing all the information under a central authority and storing data in a single database schema. The majority of the existing chemical databases rely on a centralized design, offering data access via unique and incompatible interfaces. Loosely coupled systems, allowing end users to share and integrate data on the fly are increasingly considered more appropriate and actively developed , but not yet the mainstream in cheminformatics. Our experience in several past and on-going projects, dealing with data integration of chemical structures and toxicity databases, has been reflected in the architecture of the systems that we have designed (e.g. OpenTox, a set of distributed web services, with semantic representation of resources, including data , , ). The core concepts of the information integration are the web service oriented architecture and a data representation design that includes semantic and provenance information uncoupled from the software code and any proprietary metadata.
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